CSOs for delimitation based on 2021 census

By Our Staff Reporter
IMPHAL, Sep 14: Five civil society organisations namely; UPF, ACOAM-Lup, UNACSU, LIPUL and HERICOUN have urged the Government of India and the State Government to defer and carry out delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary Constituencies based on the 2021 census data.
A joint statement issued by the CSOs asserted that the 2001 census data were marred by errors while the 2011 census recorded abnormal growth at different places of the State.
The 2001 census was the most controversial and outrageous census ever carried out in Manipur with as many as nine sub-divisions recording decadal growth rates of 41 pc, 54 pc, 58 pc, 64 pc, 69 pc, 118 pc, 123 pc and 169 pc.
As lawyers, political parties, NGOs and CSOs rejected the census data, the matter reached the Guwahati High Court and a division bench ordered fresh population count in the particular nine sub-divisions.
However due to several technical and administrative reasons, only three sub-divisions were selected and their decadal population growth rate was put at 39 pc each after estimation on table. It only indicated that the census operation was not carried out properly, asserted the CSOs.
All communities wish fair representation in the State Assembly and the Lok Sabha and as such, no community would raise objection to delimitation exercises. But population count or census exercise should be done properly without leaving any room for lapses or manipulation as the delimitation exercise would be based on census data.
With both the 2001 and 2011 census reports marred by abnormal growth rates, an artificial demographic imbalance has been created among the communities of Manipur.
Even though delimitation process based on 2001 census was completed in most Indian States and Union Territories by 2008, the Government of India deferred the same exercise in Manipur following massive protest against any such exercise based on erroneous census data.
Ministry of Law and Justice Secretary Dr G Narayana Raju issued an order on February 28 this year which notified that delimitation would be done in Manipur based on the 2001 census data. Subsequently a delimitation commission was constituted with the stated objective of completing the delimitation exercise by March 2021.
Although the notification cited improved law and order situation and reduced insurgency activity, it did not mention anything about the erroneous 2001 census data which is the key issue, the CSOs pointed out.
Moreover, due process has been already initiated for the 2021 census operation. As such, the Government of India’s push for carrying out delimitation in Manipur based on census data collected 20 years back sounds rather illogical and it will only create a number of problems, the CSOs continued.
Categorically stating that it would not be right to carry out any delimitation exercise based on the erroneous census data of 2001 and 2011, the CSOs asked the State Government’s position on the issue.
They then urged the State Government to set up and activate a State Population Commission which would look after headcount in the State.